Ooo! Ooo! I really love this book! Ok, ok I know that is not a descriptive opening, and I would have marked my students down for such sentiments, but I just can't help myself. Let me try that again. The Night Circus is highly enjoyable because it is a very successful fantasy story. It captures that glamorous, ethereal quality that really good magical realism does so well, but manages to maintain an originality that is quite unusual.
Marco and Celia have been bound since childhood to compete in a game of chaos versus order. The venue is a fantastical circus whose creator, performers, and attendees have no idea what is really going on. The medium is magic. Each competes by manipulating the circus into ever more extraordinary directions, and the result is a dreamscape of different tents. Parallels I noticed were with The Tempest (which is often quoted) and Romeo and Juliette. If you're not a fantasy person, the quality of this book might well be lost on you. However, the fact that this is a first novel does make it all the more impressive.